Universal acclaim - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
Watch On
  1. 100
    Tense, engrossing, and superbly structured, Bus 174 is not just unforgettable drama but a skillfully developed argument.
  2. 100
    By the end, you realize you've seen an extraordinary movie, easily one of the best of the year.
  3. 100
    The results are as riveting as any action movie ever made.
  4. 90
    Edited with an impeccable sense of timing and rhythm, with each new revelation and insight planted at just the right moment, Bus 174 examines an already gripping story from a moving and untold perspective.
  5. 90
    Tough and relentless, dazzlingly researched and crafted. At its core is compassion for those who are angry, violent and uneducated.
  6. What results is a thoughtful, analytical yet still emotional film, meticulously investigated and absolutely compelling.
  7. 89
    Far from being atypical, the events of June 12 and the litany of tiny nightmares that led up to that day are brutally obvious.
  8. It is to Padilha's enormous credit that he steadfastly kicks aside our own culturally imposed frames of reference, insisting that we see the truth, and the humanity, within this very real story.
  9. 88
    If you have seen the masterful 2002 Brazilian film "City of God" or the 1981 film "Pixote," both about the culture of Rio's street people, then Bus 174 plays like a sad and angry real-life sequel.
  10. 88
    A lot of ground for one film to cover, but this smart, absorbing movie, which has been sharply edited by Felipe Lacerda, never feels like it's spreading itself too thin.
  11. Although it shares a bitter interest in slum desperation with last year's Brazilian-underbelly docudrama ''City of God,'' Bus 174 pulls ahead, I think, by not confusing cinematic pizzazz with the content of misery.
  12. Reviewed by: Richard James Havis
    This gripping Brazilian documentary shows a bus hijacking that spirals out of control because of police incompetence.
  13. So wrenching and absorbing that you can easily lose sight of the sophistication of its techniques.
  14. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Alternating between the sad facts of Nascimento life -- which included a stretch at one of Rio's notorious prisons -- with the events unfolding outside the botanical garden, the film is a pulse-pounding piece of documentary reportage, and a terribly important account of a social problem in developing countries that won't be going away anytime soon.
  15. It all adds up to a searing portrait of social misery.
  16. 80
    This is provocative stuff--and not just for its searing indictment of Brazilian society.
  17. Reviewed by: Will Lawrence
    This powerful film offers no excuses for Sandro’s actions, but his situation demands our empathy.
  18. 75
    The drivel they call "reality TV" pales in comparison with the gripping big-screen documentary Bus 174.
  19. A fascinating account, if less urgently compelling than it might have been.
  20. A unique portrait of modern crime and punishment, gives us terror without filters, a tragic event captured in all its initial immediacy and anguished aftermath.
  21. Riveting and courageous documentary.
  22. Reviewed by: Ruthe Stein
    The film takes us behind bars to hear horror stories from prisoners. They're illuminated by a black light to hide their identity. The effect is like looking at an X-ray. Moments like this attest to Padilha's artistry as a filmmaker.
  23. 75
    Engrossing, smartly made documentary.
  24. It's a chilling tale that leaves us with the fear that Latin America's exploding social problems may well be beyond solution.
  25. Reviewed by: Patrick McGavin
    Padilha allows neither easy answers nor ironic commentary, producing on both sides of the conflict a world of inconsolable grief.
  26. 70
    An amazingly powerful piece of cinema. Actually, it's more an amazingly powerful piece of news journalism; the kind of in-depth stories told in all their complexity that such fluff American network "news" magazines as "Dateline" could only dream about telling.
  27. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    A tense documentary with multiple layers of meaning.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 22 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. SwagV.
    Mar 10, 2007
    Haunting. While I can't say it's among the best movies ever made, it's one that has stuck with me afterwards as long as anything.
  2. Oct 26, 2014
    Score 7/10 Sandro is the name of our protagonist in Bus 174. The film is the latest in a long line of documentaries dealing with the streetScore 7/10 Sandro is the name of our protagonist in Bus 174. The film is the latest in a long line of documentaries dealing with the street children of Brazil. This documentary is simply the cream of the crop. Using actual footage of a hostage crisis where Sandro takes a municipal bus hostage the film creates great tension for the viewer. (Especially American viewers like myself who have no idea how this turns out.) Interspersed between scenes of the hostage crisis are talking head interviews (a mixed bag from fascinating like Sandro's Aunt to annoying such as Sandro's social worker). Most fascinating is the sheer volume of footage from Sandro's street life before the crisis. The Documentary filmmakers really went out of their way to dig up these treasures.

    The documentary is not without flaws however. The sheer volume of people who helped Sandro out in his young life undercuts the whole street kid premise of the film. The middle third does drag as many have noted and there is a horribly misjudged scene in a jail where prisoners shout out their grievances. (Shot in the negative like the monster vision from a mid-nineties creature feature it is a clear fabrication as the filmmakers were denied access to the actual jail in question. It is unnecessary and kills the mood like that Trey Parker style cartoon in Bowling for Columbine).

    Those overall minor flaws aside this is one fascinating documentary that truly takes you into another world. Despite cursing and brief male nudity I would recommend this to every high school history class to see how the third world really lives.
    Full Review »
  3. Jan 4, 2014
    2000 olhava atentos a tv o desespero d0 174, eu na época devia ter uns 4 anos mais ao ver esse documentário fiquei chocado com as cenas.2000 olhava atentos a tv o desespero d0 174, eu na época devia ter uns 4 anos mais ao ver esse documentário fiquei chocado com as cenas. Simplesmente um filme super tenso. Full Review »